Jonathan Broxton shows little interest in trade rumors as deadline nearsBy BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
The weekend deal that sent Houston closer Brett Myers to the Chicago White Sox should only heighten interest in Royals closer Jonathan Broxton in the week remaining until July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
Mention this to the big guy, and he responds with a shrug and a disinterested look.
“You can’t get tied up into it,” Broxton said. “You get tied up into it, you’re not focused on what you’re out there to do.”
Several clubs continue to seek help at the back of their bullpen, and Broxton is one of the few available veteran closers. The Mets, Giants and Angels among others have shown some interest.
Broxton, 28, is an attractive short-term rental because he is owed only about $1.7 million over the remaining of the season. While his saves are seldom stress-free, he has converted 22 of 26 opportunities while compiling a 2.34 ERA in 34 appearances.
Here’s the catch:
The Royals aren’t shopping for prospects in any deadline deal – for Broxton or other players they privately acknowledge are available: outfielder Jeff Francoeur, reliever José Mijares and infielder Yuniesky Betancourt.
General manager Dayton Moore concedes that approach complicates the process.
“We’re at a stage in our development,” he said, “where we want back ready major-league players to help us. It’s difficult to get back ready major-league talent at this time of year. (Contending) clubs are very hesitant to trade players off their 25-man roster.”
The Astros accepted two minor-league pitchers – both are low-level prospects – and a player to be named later for Myers.
The situation isn’t completely analogous: Myers is still owed $4.45 million (of which Houston is paying $3.45 million) and has a vesting option next season for $10 million if he finishes 45 games (he needs 16 more) and doesn’t end the season on the disabled list.
Even so, the Myers’ deal underscores Moore’s point about receiving major-league-ready talent in return for a closer. The Royals might find themselves in a position of either accepting prospects or risk losing Broxton for no compensation after the season.
Retaining Broxton could be difficult because his bounce-back season, after missing nearly all of last season because of an elbow injury, should position him for a healthy raise and, likely, a multi-year deal on the free-agent market.
Club officials acknowledge that could push him beyond their payroll means, particularly since they have numerous in-house alternatives in Greg Holland, Aaron Crow, Kelvin Herrera – and, perhaps, Joakim Soria, who continues to rehab in Arizona.
Evaluating Broxton’s value isn’t easy.
Only five closers entered Monday with more saves: Baltimore’s Jim Johnson (30), Atlanta’s Craig Kimbrel (28), Pittsburgh’s Joel Hanrahan (28), Tampa Bay’s Fernando Rodney (27) and Cleveland’s Chris Perez (26).
But Broxton’s 84.6-percent success rate on saves opportunities ranked just 13th among 24 relievers with at least 15 saves. Nine closers were at 90 percent or better, topped by San Diego’s Huston Street, who was perfect in 16 chances. Rodney is at 96.4 (27 for 28).
Stress factor? That might be best shown through WHiP, which is walks and hits per inning. Broxton checks in at 1.385 with 34 hits and 14 walks in his 34 innings.
Street also leads that group at 0.64, while Broxton ranks 21st – ahead of only Milwaukee’s John Axford (1.56), the Mets’ Frank Francisco (1.59) and Miami’s Heath Bell (1.71).
Adding it up
Right fielder Jeff Francoeur picked up his 10th assist in Sunday’s 7-5 loss to the Twins when his relay helped cut down Denard Span’s bid to turn a double into a triple in the seventh inning.
Francoeur has reached double figures in assists in each of his eight major-league seasons and has 107 in his career. No other outfielder has more than 77 since Francoeur reached the majors on July 7, 2005 with the Braves.
“I’ve always felt I had a good arm,” he said, “but I also think I get rid of the ball really quick. That’s preparation from spring training, where you take a lot of ground balls. You’ve got to put yourself in a good position to throw guys out.”
Francoeur’s 10 assists this season are, entering Monday, just one behind Toronto’s José Bautista and Arizona’s Jason Kubel for the major-league lead.
The Royals, as a team, lead the majors with 26 outfield assists. Arizona and Oakland rank second with 21.
There’s been no shortage of problems this month for the Royals – as their 5-13 record entering Monday’s game attests.
Defense isn’t one of them.
The Royals entered Monday with a streak of 40 consecutive errorless innings. That’s only three innings shy of their season-best streak, which occurred shortly before the current streak.
They didn’t commit an error from the seventh inning on July 7 at Detroit through the fourth inning on July 16 vs. Seattle.
The current streak began last Wednesday in the eighth inning vs. Seattle – one inning after Lorenzo Cain bobbled a ball in center field.
The Royals also had a 42-inning errorless streak from the eighth inning on May 17 vs. Baltimore through the fourth inning on May 22 at New York.
Lots of friends
Third baseman Mike Moustakas, from the nearby Los Angeles suburb of Chatsworth, is leaving 28 tickets for friends and family for each of the series’ three games.
That gets expensive and, when he mentioned it, the response was disbelieving headshakes from teammates Chris Getz and Alex Gordon.
“Hey,” Moustakas countered, “they’re family and friends.”
Besides, Moustakas said he left “about 50” tickets last year when he made his debut in a June 10 game against the Angels in Anaheim.
Right-hander Kyle Zimmer, the organization’s first-round pick in June, was promoted to Class A Kane County after making three starts for Surprise in the Arizona Rookie League.
Plans call for Zimmer, 21, to start Thursday for the Cougars in a home game against Wisconsin, a Milwaukee affiliate.
Zimmer was 1-0 at Surprise while allowing one run and five hits in 10 innings. He also struck out 13 and walked none.
The Burlington Royals in the short-season Appalachian League are reaping the benefit of an organizational decision to stock their roster with players selected in the 2011 draft, including outfielder Bubba Starling.
The Royals entered the week at league-best 20-8 record, a four-game lead in the East Division, a six-game winning streak and 10 straight home victories.
Third baseman Patrick Leonard, a fifth-round pick in 2011, hit his league-leading ninth homer in Sunday’s 9-3 victory over Greenville. Outfielder Fred Ford has eight homers.
Speedy outfielder Terrence Gore, a 20th-round pick in 2011, is batting .303 with a .410 on-base percentage and has 15 steals. Starling is batting .271 with a .400 OBP in 18 games with seven extra-base hits and 13 RBIs.
It isn’t just the 2011 class, however.
Lefty Colin Rodgers, the third-round pick in this year’s draft, is 2-0 in five starts while allowing just two runs and eight hits in 19 2/3 innings. Righty Daniel Hernandez, a 12th-round pick in 2010, is 2-0 and 2.23 ERA in six starts with 28 strikeouts in 32 1/3 innings.
It was 29 years ago today – July 24, 1983 – that George Brett hit his “pine-tar” homer against Goose Gossage, a two-run drive to right, with two outs in the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium.
The homer gave the Royals a 5-4 lead – before Brett was called out by umpire Tim McClelland following a protest by New York manager Billy Martin that the pine tar extended beyond allowable limits up the barrel of the bat.
Brett’s reaction remains indelible.
The Royals protested the call, and their protest was upheld. The homer counted, and the Royals returned Aug. 18 to Yankee Stadium for the game’s final four outs.